Purpose: Women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) may develop a virilized voice due to late diagnosis or suboptimal suppression of adrenal androgens. Changes in the vocal folds due to virilization have not been studied in vivo. The purpose was to investigate if the thyroarytenoid (TA) muscle is affected by virilization and correlate findings to fundamental frequency (F0).
Method: A case-control study using magnetic resonance imaging and voice recordings. Four women with CAH with virilized voices (26-40 years), and 5 female and 4 male controls participated. Measurements of cross-sectional TA muscle area, vocal fold length, vocal tract length, and acoustic analyses of F0 were performed.
Results: Women with CAH had larger cross-sectional TA muscle area than female control subjects and smaller than male controls. A significant negative correlation was found between TA muscle area and mean F0. The patients had a smaller physiological voice range than both female and male controls.
Conclusion: Data from our small study suggest that a larger TA muscle area is strongly associated with a lower F0 and thus the anatomical explanation for a female virilized voice, suggesting an androgen effect on the vocal folds. The findings from the present study need to be confirmed in a larger study.